What's happening at Vision-Aid - a field report
While the Vision-Aid team in Massachusetts has been bustling with various activities, like the annual fundraiser program, Boston accessibility conference and a busy fall semester in our programming course for the visually impaired, the Vision-Aid programs in India have also been busy with many initiatives this fall. Our team members and partners across India have conscientiously been making strides in different areas. Here is an update highlighting some of their work:
Jeeyar Educational Trust (JET) (AP/Telangana)
The Vision-Aid team procured and installed a range of training equipment at Nethra Rushikonda (near Vizag) and Nethra Shamshedabad (near Hyderabad). JET teachers were trained and can now connect to the Vishakhapatnam center for easy two-way collaboration and joint training initiatives.
A special course was designed for initiating ICA (Induction Program for Computer Application for the Visually Impaired) a new training course in accessibility technology. Several students were trained in the Shamshedabad and Rushikonda Nethra centers using the new equipment and course materials.
Seven teachers from Nethra Rushikonda underwent a short ACA (Administrator in Computer Applications) training course at our Vizag Center.
Sevabharti (Mangalore, Karnataka)
New students with low vision, from different age groups were enrolled in computer training classes at Seva Bharathi. Students already enrolled in three additional classes that had already started in the summer continue to make great progress. Exams will hold to evaluate the level of progress for these students soon. Vision-Aid is planning on a standardized benchmarking exam across all its programs and the pilot testing will be conducted in Seva Bharathi over the next few months before rolling it out to other locations.
Milton (Berhampur , Odisha)
Visually impaired students were provided mobility training. In addition to its six students successfully completing the Vision-Aid DCA (Diploma in Computer Applications) training course.
Sankar Netralaya (Chennai, Tamil Nadu)
Around 40 visually impaired patients of Shankar Netralaya (SN), who belong to the financially disadvantaged strata of the society, were provided with various devices by Vision-Aid through the newly established collaboration between Vision-Aid and SN. These devices include magnifiers like stand magnifier, dome magnifier, half eyes, and glasses etc., which were given freely to needy visually impaired patients at SN's low vision clinic in Chennai.
Vision-Aid Vizag (Andhra Pradesh)
In collaboration with Rotary club a conference was organized the demonstrated the installation and usage of Vision-Aid Info desk. The event helped share information about Vision-Aid programs with local Rotarians and was also successfully instrumental in spot raising funds to support Vision-Aid.
COHOOTS (Co-Operative Hostel for Out Of Towners) is up and running with great success. It is instrumental is encouraging visually impaired students from outlying areas to come to Vizag, to complete comprehensive and extended training courses that will help them be self-reliant.
The center received several visitors from different parts of the world were introduced to the work Vision-Aid is doing on ground.
Vision-Aid Vizag continues to lead the way as our flagship center with staff and teachers from the Vizag center travelling to other Vision-Aid centers and partners provided training and guidance.
- The new Vision-Aid center in Agra is in advanced stages of planning and procurement. The target is to establish the infrastructure and have a fully functional state-of-the-art training facility to serve the 60 residential students at the Agra Blind school by the end of the year.
- The first shipment of Vision-Aid's new low cost Digital Magnifiers have arrived in India and will be making their way into the hands of low vision persons soon!
- The spoken English program is picking up steam and we expect that all course content will be completed by the end of the year, with classes in spoken English staring up in 2018 to teach our visually impaired students a valuable new skill - conversational English.
- A hackathon for the visually impaired is planned in Bangalore in January 2018 which will give visually impaired students from all over India to show case their talents to tech. companies in Bangalore, with a goal to helping them gain tech jobs.
- A new committee focused on the applications of cutting edge technologies (including Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and portable braille) is being created to carry the grat momentum that was created in the recent Accessibility conference in Boston. Please stay tuned!
Thanks so much for your time, interest and support which makes all of these programs possible!